SD's Noem joins ND's Hoeven on farm bill committee
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Both Dakotas will have seats at the table when Congress attempts to negotiate a new farm bill, after South Dakota Republican Rep. Kristi Noem was appointed Saturday as a House conferee on the legislation.
Noem joins North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven, who was named in August as one of the Senate negotiators, as members on a conference committee that will try to iron out differences between the Senate and House farm bills.
Noem is the first House member from South Dakota since 1996 named to the farm bill committee.
"It's great news for agriculture that we are going to conference to move this process forward, and it is a very positive thing for South Dakota's agriculture producers to be represented at the negotiating table," she said in a statement.
The Senate voted in June to pass its version of the farm bill. The House initially split its version into two bills, one for farm programs and one for nutrition programs, before combining them again.
Hoeven said it's important to pass farm legislation by the end of the year. The current bill expired last week.
"For a range of reasons, including the need for a secure and affordable food supply, it's vital that we pass a good, bipartisan farm bill with strong risk management tools for the benefit of producers and American consumers alike," Hoeven said.
The discussions come as South Dakota ranchers are reeling from massive livestock losses due to an early October snowstorm. Both the Senate and House versions of the farm bill have plans to assist producers in times of natural disaster, called the Livestock Indemnity Program.
"Even if the federal government was open it would take months to implement the Livestock Indemnity Program, assuming Congress can reach a compromise on the farm bill," said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union president. "Agriculture is in the dark in South Dakota and all over the United States. It's not just our ranchers, but many of us have felt or will soon feel the brunt of all of this."
North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said a majority of the negotiators are from districts where agriculture plays a major role.
"And I hope those conferees from areas where agriculture isn't as large a player take a hard look during the discussions at why a farm bill is so important to rural communities," she said.